Climate Contacts

I’ve been asked to post this call for climate contacts:

Hello, philosophers!

We are a gender climate group for philosophy applicants for next fall, and we’re collecting information on “climate contacts” in individual departments.

Would you be able to send info to about contacts in departments with which you’re affiliated? We will be posting this in our 2015 women applicants group, but if you also have contacts that would be helpful for sharing information on your departments’ track records, support systems, and attitudes when it comes to race, disability, LGBT+, and more, we can find a way to distribute this information to applicants through grad cafe or by email. If you would prefer for this information to remain private, we can respond to individual emails from applicants.

If this is successful, we’d like to post this information on an updatable blog to make it available to next year’s applicants (with permission from contributors before making public posts).

Please indicate whether it is okay to post these contacts in a public forum, or whether you prefer that we share them in a private group, or with individual applicants whose identity has been confirmed.

For a better idea of the sort of information we mean, here is an example of one email we received (names redacted):

I’m the grad pres at [UNIVERSITY X] for the philosophy department, and hang out to answer questions, etc. about attending [UNIVERSITY X]. While this is typically useful I think, understandably there may be people who may not want to approach me with certain questions, e.g. about the climate at [UNIVERSITY X]. I was hoping you could pass along contact info for alternative people who may help potential applicants, so that they needn’t approach me to talk to someone else.

And here’s an example of providing climate contacts:

All women and transgender people in our department are members of SWIP…. If prospective students would like to contact a professor, I would suggest they contact [NAME] or [NAME]. If they would like to contact a graduate student, any of the following people are active in SWIP and would be great help:[NAMES]. Lastly, if a non-gender conforming prospective student has questions regarding climate, [NAME] would be of great help (please address them by non-gendered pronouns, e.g. they/them/their).”

CFA: Summer Immersion at Brown

The Brown Philosophy Department is pleased to announce a call for applications for the Summer Immersion Program in Philosophy at Brown University. SIPP@Brown is a two-week residential program for members of traditionally underrepresented groups in philosophy, including women and students of color. This year’s program will run from May 31, 2015 to June 13, 2015 and will feature seminars taught by Brown faculty and the SIPP@Brown research conference. Students will have travel and lodging expenses covered and will receive a $500 stipend. More information is available at The application deadline is March 15.

Sexual Assault & Students with a Disability

“The hidden victims of campus sexual assault: Students with disabilities”

“Even Gallaudet University, designed specifically for deaf students, can get it wrong when it comes to rape”

“Nationally, research has shown that individuals with disabilities experience sexual assault at significantly higher rates than the general population and that they also face critical gaps in services when they seek help for abuse. At the same time, experts say, schools have yet to adequately assess or address the issue on their campuses. “

“Al Jazeera America’s six-month investigation into sexual violence at Gallaudet — which included interviews with a dozen current or former students who say they were sexually assaulted, senior Gallaudet administrators, Title IX and disability experts, and an analysis of the university’s judicial board actions — reveals that even a school explicitly designed for students with disabilities can struggle in dealing with sexual assault.”

One story:

“Melissa thought his [Mike’s] behavior was creepy, and she reported him to Gallaudet’s Department of Public Safety. Since he wasn’t a student, she hoped DPS would bar Mike from campus. Instead, she says, the DPS officer she met with didn’t take her seriously: “He was sort of casual.” He started asking Melissa questions about her blindness, she says, and whether she could really know if she was being stalked. “If you couldn’t see him,” Melissa says the officer asked her, “how do you know it was Mike stalking you, and not someone else?”

“Yes, she was blind, but Melissa had other ways of identifying people, she insisted. She gave the officer details about the roughness of his hands when he signed to her, the things he said to her, and even offered to show him his Facebook profile picture. But without visual identification, Melissa says, the DPS officer told her there was no way they could pursue the claim or bar Mike.”

Another story:

“The two women, whose names and some identifying features have been changed, began dating. But within a month and a half, Alma says, their relationship took a turn. It began with a light punch. As a survivor of abuse growing up, Alma told Lisa the punch triggered bad memories.

Alma says Lisa suggested that it was playful and described growing up in a difficult home. Feeling guilty, Alma scolded herself for not being sensitive enough.

But over the course of their five-and-a-half-month relationship, the abuse escalated, she says. If Lisa felt Alma spoke too loudly, she would pinch her. And when Alma reacted, she says, Lisa would snap, “Oh my God, do you know how awful you sound?”

Alma had no idea what her voice sounded like, but she did know that the fastest way to disempower her was to demean the way she spoke. “The verbal insults became the root of the relationship,” Alma recalls. “Before I knew it, I was getting in trouble for talking to my friends.” [It gets worse.]

“But the worst part, she says, were the questions the other officer asked her.

““Are you sure you were raped?”

““You call that rape?”

““Do you know what the definition of ‘rape’ is?””

On how the university handles sexual assault:

“in October, an article in the university’s newspaper told an unnamed survivor’s account of why she didn’t report assault. “It had nothing to do with how the university would handle it,” the piece began. “But it had everything to do with me being embarrassed.” Later, it continued, “I’ve seen how Gallaudet has improved in how they handle sexual assault and rape cases, and I have faith in how they run the system.” But while the university was being defended by its students, it was also trying to block the reporting that led to this article. During this investigation, Gallaudet, and representatives from a communications firm it hired, reached out to Al Jazeera America on several occasions to express concern about contacting sources for this story.

““We’ve all been dismissed as being the exception individually, even by people who are sympathetic and open to listening to our story,” explains one student who says she was groped by an unknown assailant one night. “People don’t want to see it as common [because] it’s scary. For one, it means it can happen to them. It also means admitting there is something wrong with a system they are a part of … Gallaudet is such a safe place in other ways, nobody wants to admit that there is an ugly underbelly.”” -Alma